Coroner who left documents about murder of a schoolgirl is sacked

Coroner who bullied staff and left a sensitive document about the murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl on a train is sacked

  • Alice Gross was abducted and murdered by Arnis Zalkalns in Ealing in 2014
  • Chinyere Inyama was appointed to investigate her death

A coroner who bullied staff and lost sensitive documents about murder of a schoolgirl on a train has been sacked.  

Chinyere Inyama was dismissed from his position after an investigation was carried out into claims he misled the Chief Coroner.

The controversial coroner has been the centre of several scandals since he was appointed in 2013, including in 2014 when he left a sensitive police document about the murder of 14-year-old Alice Gross on a train. 

Alice was abducted and murdered by builder Arnis Zalkalns in Ealing and Mr Inyama was appointed to investigate her death.

Following the loss of the 30-page file, which happened a month after Alice’s body was found in a canal, Mr Inyama was removed from the investigation and inquest. 

Senior coroner Chinyere Inyama, right, left a file containing highly sensitive details about the murder of schoolgirl, Alice Gross, left. on a train and has since been dismissed from work

As a result, he was issued with ‘formal advice’ from the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office.

Alice’s grieving family only found out about the blunder when details were revealed in the media. At the time they were said to be furious that they had not been told immediately.

Read More: Parents of Alice Gross outraged as ‘coroner loses murder investigation file on train after discarding it in a pile of magazines’

He also faced criticism for reportedly holding ‘numerous’ inquest hearings outside of office hours. 

Between April and December 2015, Mr Inyama had staged around 80 hearings at times ranging from 6.15pm to 11.52pm.

In 2017 he came under more criticism over his management of the court. An investigation found he had bullied a member of staff and his behaviour, along with texts and remarks to a different staff member, amounted to serious misconduct. 

Mr Inyama was issued only with a reprimand and kept his £120,000 job.

On Wednesday (February 8), the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office announced: ‘The Lord Chancellor, with the Lord Chief Justice’s agreement, has removed Senior Coroner Mr Chinyere Inyama from office for misconduct. 

Judicial office-holders are required to inform their judicial leaders (in this case the Chief Coroner) of any conduct-related matters which might affect their position or the reputation and standing of the judiciary.

Alice was killed by Latvian Arnis Zalkalns, 41, who was later found hanged

‘The JCIO received information which indicated that Mr Inyama may have misled the Chief Coroner about serious allegations regarding his conduct. 

Following an extensive investigation, a disciplinary panel found that he had deliberately minimised the allegations when he told the Chief Coroner’s office about them. Mr Inyama accepted that he had done so.

‘The disciplinary panel, having considered the mitigation offered by Mr Inyama, found that he must have known he was obliged to give a full and accurate account of the allegations. 

By deliberately minimising their seriousness, he knowingly misled the Chief Coroner. This showed a serious lack of integrity and a profound lack of judgement, which was misconduct of a serious nature.’

The notice did not make public the nature of the misconduct process, including any arguments made against or for Mr Inyama.

What is a coroner?

A coroner investigates by holding an inquest, aiming to answer four questions: who has died, when have they died, where have they died and how they came by their death. 

They will not apportion blame or make a decision of criminal or civil liability although the outcome of an inquest may play a role in future proceedings.

When someone dies their death will be reported to the coroner if it was unexpected or unexplained, when a dead body is found or if their death is in any way suspicious. 

If a death is considered to be due to natural causes, where death is caused by a disease running its full course with no other intervening factors such as old age, an inquest is not required.

However a coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is unknown, if the person might have died a violent or unnatural death or if the person might have died in prison or police custody. 

A death should be reported by the governor of a prison immediately following the death of a prisoner no matter what the cause of death is.

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